Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Stine draws bead on lottery picker who works for Dems

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Donna Little has been drawing the numbers during nightly broadcasts for the Kentucky Lottery Corp. for 10 years.

        She started as director of communications for the Democratic caucus in the Kentucky Senate in August 2000. She is still under contract with the lottery.

        On Tuesday, Republican Sen. Katie Stine of Fort Thomas wondered about the “ethical dilemma” that arrangement might pose.

        Ms. Stine, who referred to the lottery employment of its drawing personalities as the “Vanna White contracts,” quickly drew the ire of Sen. Marshall Long, the Democratic whip in the Senate.

Called pettiness

        “This is another example of the pettiness that's going on up here,” Mr. Long said. “This does not in any way affect her job that's done here in Frankfort. This is trying to make a political statement, and this is not the place for it.”

        Ms. Stine asked lottery representatives during a meeting of the Government Contract Review Committee why they didn't get ordinary citizens to do the drawings for free to give them their "15 minutes of fame.”

        Lottery spokesman Rick Redmon said there are risks inherent in trying to do several drawings on live television in a 60-second spot. “Live television is not quite as easy as it looks,” Mr. Redmon said.

        Mr. Redmon said Ms. Little is one of three hosts of the nightly drawing. All are paid $100 a night, $150 if it is a holiday, and $50 an hour for making personal appearances on behalf of the lottery up to a maximum of $23,000 annually.

        Ms. Little is paid $51,464 for her legislative post. Shawn Pinkston, who fills a similar position for the Senate Republican caucus, is paid $46,694.

        Mr. Redmon said lottery officials think a certain amount of trust is built up among viewers and the drawing personalities.

        Ms. Stine said she wanted an opinion from the Legislative Ethics Commission about the Little arrangement.

No violations
        Mr. Redmon said the Little contract does not violate the lottery's own ethics code.

        Paula Payne, chief of the staff of the Senate Democrats, said verbal advice received from the Legislative Ethics Commission before the Little hiring last year also indicated no conflicts.

        The contract was approved by the committee, with only Ms. Stine voting against it.

        Rep. Bob Heleringer, R-Louisville, did not take the disagreement quite so seriously. “I know that Ms. Little is partisan because in all these years, she's never pulled my number.”


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